Asia Minute: Shocking Pedestrians: Spraying Jaywalkers in China

Apr 23, 2018

Credit chensiyuan / Wikimedia Commons

Pedestrian safety is a concern for anyone who lives in a city. In Honolulu, it’s been about six months since a law took effect banning texting in crosswalks. The city also has periodic crackdowns on jaywalking. But in China, several cities are trying some new methods to deal with this old problem. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

You’ve seen it, pedestrians dashing across intersections without crosswalks—or crossing on red lights.

Since the early 1900’s it’s been called “jaywalking” because the word “jay” used to mean an inexperienced person. And in the early 20th century, walking near moving cars was definitely a new experience.

Today, jaywalking in China has become such a safety issue that authorities are taking several approaches to deal with it.

About a year ago in the southern city of Shenzhen, cameras started capturing the faces of jaywalkers and projecting them on big screens by the intersection. Now the city plans to combine facial recognition and artificial intelligence to start texting fines.

Nearby in the city of Guangzhou, authorities are going to another level on public shaming. The Guangzhou Daily reports that earlier this year, police set up a testing site where jaywalkers are also asked to post a note on social media—explaining how they broke the law.

Guangzhou Skyline, 2013.
Credit jo.sau / Flickr

In Hubei Province in central China, authorities are taking a more tactile approach. The China Daily reports city officials have set up a system that sprays jaywalkers with water vapor.

So far, pedestrians have certainly been surprised, but it will take some time to document the success or failure of this water cure for jaywalking.